Your Identity

John 1.png

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.                   John 1:12-12 NIV

It’s extremely easy to lose our identity, furthermore, to find ourselves searching all over to find out who we are. We hear stories on the news and we see it in the people we associate with. Additionally, we certainly deal with it in a very private as well as personal way as we hear voices, voices which tell us and then are projected into the world. We tell the world what we think about ourselves and don’t think for a minute we’re fooling the entire world. We may fool some people, but overall, we aren’t fooling everyone.
We hear the voices in our heart, spirit and mind telling us good and bad. We hear the good from those who really love and care for us, we hear that good from God — yet we tend to believe the bad which comes from Satan and from those who don’t care for us. We hold onto that bad stuff.
We hear things like . . . you’re
Not good enough, Not smart enough, Not attractive enough
Not skinny enough, not rich enough, not smart enough, not athletic enough, Not from the right family, We’re told we’re not enough! And countless other lies. Hearing those lies long enough and your identity will be formed by it. You feel rejected. Eventually you believe you’re not enough. The voices which shape our identity begin early in life, from the moment we are born. Those words and thoughts stick! Don’t they? They play like a broken record. I know I’ve heard them. I was reminded I wasn’t good enough too many times.
As much as we think we can overcome them, they come back and haunt us. You remind yourself, they were right, I’m no good, not good enough.
Then we begin a relationship with Jesus Christ. We realize in our heart, spirit and mind we need Jesus to help us through life. Yet we sin. We know this fact and the world knows it, and we think we’re worthless; unlovable. I’ve committed too many terrible sins. My sins exempt me from God ever loving me. So, I question if Jesus would die for me. Maybe He’d die for a Saint but certainly not a sinner. I’m not good enough.
That’s where we get it wrong friends. You see, there’s nothing we’ve done which is so bad that God cannot forgive us and bring us into His family. Humanly speaking, some may never forgive you, divinely speaking, we have a God who is not human! Thank God for that!! And He can and will forgive you . . . if you ask.
So, whatever you’ve done in your life up until this very second, know that God wants to be in a relationship with you. He loves you, He died for you. In 2 Peter 3:9, as Peter wrote about the return of Christ, he said, The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
That’s God’s desire for us. God doesn’t want you to think you cannot be loved and embraced by Him. Peter tells us repent, turn away from your sin. Turn to God and God will embrace you in a life changing relationship, he will change you and I from the inside, out. He wants you in His family. There is not a wall which is meant to keep you away, the door is always open, the lights are always on. But, we must receive Christ.
To receive this blessing from God, we must except Jesus for who is truly is, the Son of the Living God, the Messiah, the “Great I Am” What Paul wrote to the church in the book of Ephesians was readily understood but is often missed by us. Paul tells us in the book of Ephesians 1:5-6 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ in accordance with his pleasure and will-to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us the one he loves. Paul wanted the Ephesians to remember their identity. He wrote, in love he predestined us for adoption as sons and daughters through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will.
It was God’s great joy to adopt us into His family. God didn’t have to, He wanted to. What is your primary identity? God adopted you — do you understand that? If you believe in Jesus, you understand you don’t earn God’s love. God loves you because of who you are and who you will yet become in His kingdom. In Ephesians 2:4-5 Paul tells us, but because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions, it is by grace you have been saved. Also in the same chapter 8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is a gift from God- not by works so that no one can boast. John Wesley the founder of the Methodist Movement summons up grace in three parts-Prevenient Grace, the grace that surrounds us: is the grace that comes to us before we know God. God showers it upon all people whether they are aware of it or not. Justifying Grace- The Grace that makes our brokenness whole. Justifying Grace brings a big change to the relationship we have with God. We come to acknowledge our sinfulness and trust that we are forgiven by God’s grace. Justifying Grace is when God reaches out to a person through Jesus Christ with accepting and pardoning love.
Sanctifying Grace- Smoothing out the rough edges. Prevenient Grace is God meeting you at every corner, Justifying Grace is God reaching out to you with love, you turn a corner in your faith journey. Sanctifying Grace challenger’s believers to go deeper in faith, to love the world energetically, and to keep growing in the knowledge and love of God.
So, Paul was telling the people this — — If you have come to know Jesus, your most defining moment isn’t who threw you out BUT who took you in. God picked you out, picked you up, and took you home. God did that for you!! He was willing to die for you, so you would never again have to face rejection from the world. He wanted you to be part of His family, even when nobody else did!
There were so many issue facing the churches then as well as so many different problems we face today. Paul tells them as well as us of today, we need to change our ways, he reminds them they belong! Their most defining moment is not who threw you out, but who brought you in. If you heard the call of God and responded to Christ, you need to know He picked you out, picked you up, and brought you home. He adopted you. You’re family! Let that sink in. Remind yourself, God adopted me. Hold onto those words, believe them! The term redemption was also a trade word. In Ephesians 1:7, Paul wrote ~ 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.
Jesus paid the price for you and me by his suffering on the cross. That was the purchase price. Christianity is not about doing enough for God so he finally loves you. No, God buys us — redeems us — through the blood of Jesus hanging on the cross: “In him we have redemption through his blood—the forgiveness of sins.” God doesn’t need to punish you for your sins, somebody else was already punished for them.
In Ephesians 1:13, Paul wrote, In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were SEALED with the promised of the Holy Spirit.
Paul is reminding them, when they believed in Jesus – – – they were marked with a seal of the Holy Spirit.
We need to know and believe our identity in Christ. Whatever happens that is not good in your life. You name it! Maybe you’re in it right now. Know that you are His! You are the King’s child! The Lord of life, the God of all Creation, the Lord of the Heavenly Armies . . .
He loves you . . . He adopted you, He redeemed you, He sealed you. You are His! That my friends are your primary identity . . . You are a child of the Highest God, Jesus, the Christ!
And that is freeing. I don’t have to earn my way in, I don’t have to buy my way in, when life is a struggle I don’t have to buy junk to satisfy me, because I am the Lord’s.
When I remember that I’m loved, I serve differently. When I remember that I’m loved, I love differently. When I remember who I am, I give and live differently.
When I find myself in one of those moments when I’m buying something I don’t need and I think, What am I doing here? Why do I do what I do? Chances are, I’ve forgotten who I am.
When I find myself leaving a conversation and think — Was it necessary to rip into that person and bring them down? Chances are, I’ve forgotten who I am.
When I find my blood pressure rising over something really, really stupid and think, You don’t understand me! Why don’t you agree with me? Chances are, I’ve forgotten who I am. When I remember who I am, when I settle this identity thing, and when I remember it, I’m free to give grace, because I’ve received grace. I’m free to give love, because I’ve received love. I’m free to serve, because God has served me and lavished His mercy on me. When I remember who I am, I live differently. Just as the people of Ephesus needed to remember their identity, we too need to remember who we are. Knowing our primary identity as children of God, bought by the blood of Christ.

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

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Worthy Ambition

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They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. Sitting down, Jesus called the twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”      Mark 9:33-35

This part is proof that the disciples didn’t understand the concept of Jesus as the Messiah. They still thought of Him in terms of an earthly King and of themselves as important officials in that Kingdom. When Jesus asked them what they were arguing about, they were ashamed and fell silent. Jesus treated this matter seriously. He told them that if they were in search of true greatness in His kingdom, they had to look for it in being last, not by being masters, but servants. Instead of getting others to do things for them, they should do things for others.

This is the point of view of common sense. The really great people who are remembered and who made the greatest contribution to life, are not people who asked, “How can I use the state and community to reach my own goals?” but. “How can I use my personal talents and gifts in the service of others?”

Since unselfishness is scarce and when it manifests, it is remembered. Every economic problem would be solved if people would live for what they could do for others instead of what they could take for themselves. Every political problem would be solved if people’s ambition was to serve the state and not themselves. The division and disputes that cause the rift in the church would not happen if the church would see itself as a servant to others. Position doesn’t count as long as service is rendered. In this respect, Jesus revealed one of the greatest practical truths to the world. 

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

 

“Father, Forgive Them”

Luke 23

Two other men, both criminals were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with two criminals, one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. The people stood watching and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the chosen One.”            Luke 23:32-35

The seven times Jesus spoke on the cross are like seven windows that gave us insight into the mind and heart or our dying Savior. In the first three, our Savior elaborates on the love in His heart for His enemies, the two thieves on the cross and also His mother Mary. 

Today, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we reflect on these words, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing. The crucifixion was a brutal act that was not only accompanied by humiliation and scorn, but also by terrible suffering. In those moments of Jesus’ deepest agony, Christ speaks not a curse but a prayer, not a prayer of vengeance, but of sympathy and forgiveness. It is unbelievable by true.!

However, Jesus has a haven amid his suffering: His Father. His Father is also our Father. In our worst grief we can pray to Him. Jesus prays a prayer of compassion. “They don’t know what they are doing!” Jesus prays for others, not for himself. He makes excuses for them rather than condemning them. He preached it, now He was doing it. It was a test of discipleship. He loves us until the very end. His prayer includes everybody: “Father, Forgive them.: And to this day, Jesus intercedes for us. We learn to receive and grant forgiveness at the cross.

Dear Jesus, by your wounds we are healed, thank you for your great sacrificed in our place and your forgiveness of our sins even when we don’t deserve it. Help us to forgive others the way you have forgiven me.                       Amen

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

Sorrow Becomes Joy

 

 

 

 

John 16a

Jesus went on to say, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.” At this, some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me, and ‘Because I am going to the Father? “What does he mean by a little while? We don’t understand what he is saying.”

Jesus was looking beyond the present century to the new period that would come. He used an image that was deeply rooted in the Jewish mind. they believed that all time was divided into two parts, the present time and the time to come. The present was altogether bad and subject to damnation. The time that would be the Golden Age-the time of God. The time in between was called the time of the Messiah.

Jesus knew the Scriptures and He knew about these images, he said to his disciples, “I am leaving you now, but I will come back when My kingdom comes and I start to rule. Before this, however, you will have to suffer hard times.” Jesus went ahead to outline all that the Christian would have to endure. There would be times when Christians would experience sorrow, but their sorrow would be changed to joy. And the day would come for a turnabout. The world’s reckless joy would change to sorrow, and the Christians’ apparent sorrow would change to hoy. Christians should always remember  this when their faith is costing them.

There are two exceptional things about Christian joy: First, it can never be taken away because it is rooted in God. For this reason, this joy will be complete, while there is always something missing in the pleasure the world knows. Second, the sorrow that went before Christian joy is forgotten like a mother forgets labor pains, like the martyr forgets their suffering in the glory of heaven.

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

 

The Great Discovery

John 4 16.png“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samarians  worship what you do not know, we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth. The woman said, “I know that the Messiah (called Christ)” is coming. When he comes he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you–I am he,”     John 4:21-26

A sobering revelation now dawns on the woman at the well: It was quite possible to be in contact with the Lord for years and still not made the Great Discovery. For example, Job thought he was a godly man because he could defend God and his faith. Then God revealed Himself to Job and he confessed, “I had only heard about You before, but now I have seen You with my own eyes. I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.” (Job 42:5-6) When Isaiah saw God in the Temple, his reaction was, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. Yet I have seen the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies!” (Isaiah 6:5)

This type of meeting not only makes us aware of our own weaknesses, but also of our inability to save ourselves. Only Christ can save us-this is as clear as day. In our own strength we are doomed to fail. God has a wonderful plan with our lives; we only have to become aware of it, like the sinful woman at the well did. The Lord does not necessary use competent people,,, He equips those He uses. Then this former ignorance becomes a song of jubilation; a song of incredible joy. “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! The ignorance of the past makes room for a great discovery.

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

Little Christmas or Three Kings Day

Matthew 2.pngAfter Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east to Jerusalem and asked “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?” We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him. When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. In Bethlehem in Judea, they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written. “But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judea; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel. Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. A soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child and his mother Mary, and they worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another way.        Matthew 2:1-12

Today is known as Little Christmas and some Christians also called this day   “Three Kings Day”, since is known that Christmas season last for twelve days beginning on December 25 and ending on January 6.

The magi began their search in unbiblical ways, following messages hidden in an alien faith and wisdom. But their search led them to the God of the Bible. There is a lesson here for us. These Gentiles followed the star, building on the own motions of what it meant. They may have been following their own wisdom, but it was God who put eh star in the sky to attract them. They were Gentiles and they were among the first to recognize the birth of the Messiah. Already, in the birth of Jesus, Matthew sees the dividing walls between us and them, breaking down. What about the star? Was it a supernova? a comet?  We do not know. But identifying the star would not change the faith which Matthew is writing. The star is important, he says, because it is God’s gracious gift. The dream is also about God’s grace. “Going home by another way” has been represented as a language of conversion ad changed lives, and it could mean that. It could also mean simply “to take a different road when you go home.” God is revealed not only in the special revelation of Scripture but in our natural world as well.

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

Nothing To Fear

Luke 2bAnd there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid.” I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sigh to you. You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in  a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angels, praising God and saying”

Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests. When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what has been told them about this child, and all who heard it was amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.                                                                     Luke 2:8-20

keld-vision.jpgTry to imagine if you could that you were a shepherd on the night that our Savior was born, you may of been tending the sheep or perhaps having a nap, and then all of a sudden up in the sky was God’s heavenly angels declaring the birth of a Savior. I am sure like many of today’s world all were grip was fear, just as many today have so many things that they are afraid of. Afraid of what tomorrow will bring, afraid to be alone, afraid of death, illness, loosing a job, a love one, too many times our days seem to bring us so much fear, fear of being different, fear of the way someone may treated us or look at us. If we learn to continue to stay in God’s word daily we can read these words as follows: For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of sound mind.                                 2 Timothy 1:7

Fear is something that satan tries to input into our minds and it is not something that comes from God. You are precious in God’s eyes, you are his child and his love for you is unconditional that our minds cannot truly understands how much he loves his children. On this Holy Night, take a moment or many and just close your eyes and imagine you being in Bethlehem and walking to the manger, as you look into this wonderful sight, of God coming down here on earth as an infant, just look deep within the manger to see what love is. “For God so loved the world, that he sent his one and only Son into this world.      John 3:16christmas-1010749_960_720

Merry Christmas to you My Friends